Since 1996, Wilderness Foundation Africa has been developing a number of holistic skills development and education interventions that harness the healing power of nature, to equip previously disadvantaged youth to become economically active and environmentally responsible citizens.
The Siyazenzela course (meaning “we are doing it for ourselves”) is a four week basic employability and wellness course, which aims to see young people from previously disadvantaged communities gain job preparedness skills whilst also developing personal insight and understanding of themselves. The overriding objective of the Siyazenzela courses is to see young people progress from unemployment to employment by providing them with skills and vocational education opportunities leading to new pathways i.e. paid employment, post-secondary education or entrepreneurship opportunities.
The Youth Development team recently facilitated a Siyazenzela course in Robertson, Western Cape, kindly funded by the Beck Family Education Trust. The course is facilitated by Lwazi Xinwa and Ntobeko Ngcala who – through their wealth of experience and charismatic approach – work closely with the students to ensure their teachings are transformative and enduring. At the Graduation on the 27th May 2022, the cohort of graduates described how the course had changed their lives by equipping them with invaluable skills and opportunities, and how the facilitators made them feel free and valued as young individuals with great potential.
However, Siyazenzela is just the beginning of the holistic Youth Development intervention. Three of the graduates were awarded with Umzi Wethu Vocational Scholarships, which will see them conduct accredited field guide training at Ulovane Environmental Training in the Eastern Cape. The training will provide them with an opportunity to develop their skills and resilience further, with the ultimate aim to pursue a career in conservation. This was evidenced by the guest speaker, Greg Jacobs, who passionately described how Siyazenzela was the catalyser he needed to change the course of his path. Greg and his fellow Umzi Wethu graduate, Mthuthulezi Mthembu have subsequently started their own trails guiding business ‘Jacobs Mthembu Adventures’ based in the Western Cape. The other graduates will be placed in three-week workplace experience opportunities, and will also be tracked by the Youth Development team to monitor their progress following Siyazenzela.
In the words of Lwazi, “Put your circumstances on the floor, step on them and you will stand a little bit taller – your circumstances do not define who you are and where you are going.”